Advertisement

Engaging with the Valley of Death: The Dialogue with Modernity in The Burmese Harp

Chapter
  • 366 Downloads

Abstract

Essentializing assumptions have marred a number of American and British readings of Ichikawa Kon’s award-winning anti-war film The Burmese Harp (Biruma no tategoto, 匕堅琴) (1956)1 and its relationship to its principal source, Takeyama Michio’s canonical narrative of the same title. Hypotext (novel)-hypertext (film)2 conflation has led to an apparently contagious tendency to confuse the novel’s plot with that of the film, and vice versa, to the point of misrecognition: overly simplistic in his description of the book’s narrative as “straightforward enough,” historian Louis Allen misrepresents the cardinal cave scene—a surrender in the book but a “massacre,” to some, in the film—by carelessly slipping from novel to film as if the two were identical, a crucial divergence over which Keiko I. McDonald also falters, but in reverse, by inadvertently substituting the novel for the film.3 Although this kind of error is not unusual in adaptation studies prior to the video cassette recorder era of the 1970s–1990s, that it and other essentializing tendencies in the reception of the film remain uncriticized is rather disquieting, since the texts in question are generally construed as “classics,” managed within secondary and higher education apparati, and highly significant within Japanese collective memory of the Fifteen Years’ War (1931–45).4

Keywords

Japanese Literature Japanese Culture Social Politics Southeast Asian Study Japanese Soldier 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Bibliography

  1. Allen, Louis. Burma: The Longest War1941–45. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1984.Google Scholar
  2. Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso, 2006.Google Scholar
  3. Baba, Kimihiko. ‘Biruma no tategoto’ o meguru sengoshi. Tokyo: Hōsei Daigaku Shuppankyoku, 2004.Google Scholar
  4. —. “Post-War Japanese Intellectuals’ Perspectives on Reconciliation between British and Japanese Soldiers over the War in Burma: The Case of Takeyama Michio and Harp of Burma.” In Japan and Britain at War and Peace, edited by Hugo Dobson and Kosuge Nobuko, 112–24. London: Routledge, 2009.Google Scholar
  5. Bock, Audie. “Kon Ichikawa.” In Kon Ichikawa, edited by James Quandt, 37–51. Toronto, ON: Toronto International Film Festival Group, 2001.Google Scholar
  6. Bowring, Richard John. Mori Ōgai and the Modernization of Japanese Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979.Google Scholar
  7. Boyer, Pascal, and Charles Ramble. “Cognitive Templates for Religious Concepts: Cross-Cultural Evidence for Recall of Counter-Intuitive Representations.” Cognitive Science 25, n. 4 (2001): 535–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cazdyn, Eric. “The Ends of Adaptation: Kon Ichikawa and the Politics of Cinematization.” In Kon Ichikawa, edited by James Quandt, 221–35. Toronto, ON: Toronto International Film Festival Group, 2001.Google Scholar
  9. Conrad, Sebastian. “Remembering Asia: History and Memory in Post-Cold War Japan.” In Memory in a Global Age: Discourses, Practices and Trajectories, edited by Aleida Assmann and Sebastian Conrad, 163–77. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.Google Scholar
  10. Dilworth, David. “Watsuji Tetsurō (1889–1960): Cultural Phenomenologist and Ethician.” Philosophy East and West 24, n. 1 (1974): 3–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dissanayake, Wimal. Narratives of Agency: Self-Making in China, India, and Japan. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1996.Google Scholar
  12. Genette, Gérard. Palimpsests: Literature in the Second Degree. Translated by Channa Newman and Claude Doubinsky. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1997.Google Scholar
  13. Gross, Marty, dir. Kon Ichikawa Interview. Japan, 2005. In The Burmese Harp. Dir. Ichikawa Kon. New York: The Criterion Collection. DVD. 2007.Google Scholar
  14. Hirakawa, Sukehiro. “The Image of the Former British Enemies in Takeyama Michio’s Harp of Burma (1948).” In Images of Westerners in Chinese and Japanese Literature, edited by Hua Meng and Sukehiro Hirakawa, 213–25. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2000.Google Scholar
  15. Hirano, Kyoko. Mr. Smith Goes to Tokyo: The Japanese Cinema under the American Occupation, 1945–1952. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992.Google Scholar
  16. Ichikawa, Kon. “Blown by the Wind.” In Kon Ichikawa, edited by James Quandt, 15–19. Toronto: Toronto International Film Festival Group, 2001.Google Scholar
  17. —, dir. The Burmese Harp. Translated by John Gudelj and Kerim Yasar/Subtext Subtitling. New York: The Criterion Collection. DVD. 2007.Google Scholar
  18. —, and Mori Yuki. “Beginnings.” In Kon Ichikawa, edited by James Quandt, 21–35. Toronto, ON: Toronto International Film Festival Group, 2001.Google Scholar
  19. Iwabuchi, Kōichi. “Reconsidering East Asian Connectivity and the Usefulness of Media and Cultural Studies.” In Cultural Studies and Cultural Industries in Northeast Asia: What a Difference a Region Makes, edited by Chris Berry, Nicola Liscutin, and Jonathan D. Mackintosh, 25–36. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. McDonald, Keiko I. Cinema East: A Critical Study of Major Japanese Films. Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1983.Google Scholar
  21. —. “A Cinematic Creation: Ichikawa Kon’s Conflagration (1958).” In Japanese Cinema: Texts and Contexts, edited by Alastair Phillips and Julian Stringer, 137–49. London: Routledge, 2007.Google Scholar
  22. Mellen, Joan. “Interview with Kon Ichikawa.” In Kon Ichikawa, edited by James Quandt, 69–77. Toronto, ON: Toronto International Film Festival Group, 2001.Google Scholar
  23. —. The Waves at Genji’s Door: Japan through Its Cinema. New York: Pantheon, 1976.Google Scholar
  24. Najita, Tetsuo, and H. D. Harootunian. “Japanese Revolt against the West: Political and Cultural Criticism in the Twentieth Century.” In The Cambridge History of Japan, vol. 6, edited by Peter Duus, 711–74. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988.Google Scholar
  25. Nelson, John K. “Tempest in a Textbook: A Report on the New Middle-School History Textbook in Japan.” Critical Asian Studies 34, n. 1 (2002): 129–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ng, Zhiru. The Making of a Savior Bodhisattva: Dizang in Medieval China. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2007.Google Scholar
  27. Nietzsche, Friedrich. Also sprach Zarathustra. http://www.nietzschesource.org/(accessed April 10, 2012).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. —. The Anti-Christ. In Twilight of the Idols and The Anti-Christ, translated by R. J. Hollingdale, 113–87. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1968.Google Scholar
  29. —. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Edited and translated by Walter Kaufmann. New York: Penguin, 1966.Google Scholar
  30. Niogret, Hubert. “Biruma no tategoto.” Positif 298 (December, 1985): 44.Google Scholar
  31. Nippon Animation. Catalogue. “The Anthology of Japanese Literature.” http://www.nipponanimation.com/catalogue/051/index.html (accessed April 19, 2012).
  32. Orr, James J. The Victim as Hero: Ideologies of Peace and National Identity in Postwar Japan. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2001.Google Scholar
  33. Phillips, Alastair, and Julian Stringer. “Introduction.” In Japanese Cinema: Texts and Contexts, edited by Alastair Phillips and Julian Stringer, 1–24. London: Routledge, 2007.Google Scholar
  34. Quandt, James. “Introduction: Ichikawa the Innovator, or the Complicated Case of Kon Ichikawa.” In Kon Ichikawa, edited by James Quandt, 1–11. Toronto, ON: Toronto International Film Festival Group, 2001.Google Scholar
  35. Rayns, Tony. “Unknown Soldiers.” In The Burmese Harp, 1–13. Dir. Ichikawa Kon. New York: The Criterion Collection. DVD. 2007.Google Scholar
  36. Richie, Donald. “The Several Sides of Kon Ichikawa.” In Kon Ichikawa, edited by James Quandt, 53–7. Toronto: Toronto International Film Festival Group, 2001.Google Scholar
  37. Russell, Catherine. “The Burmese Harp. Fires on the Plain.” Cineaste 32, n. 4 (2007): 63–4.Google Scholar
  38. Satō, Tadao. Le cinéma japonais, vol. 2. Translated by Karine Chesneau, Rose-Marie Makino-Fayolle, and Chiharu Tanaka. Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou, 1997.Google Scholar
  39. Schilling, Mark. “Kon Ichikawa at Eighty-Six: A ‘Mid-Career’ Interview.” In Kon Ichikawa, edited by James Quandt, 409–27. Toronto: Toronto International Film Festival Group, 2001.Google Scholar
  40. Seaton, Philip A. Japan’s Contested War Memories: The “Memory Rifts” in Historical Consciousness of World War II. London: Routledge, 2007.Google Scholar
  41. Seraphim, Franziska. “Negotiating War Legacies and Postwar Democracy in Japan.” Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions 9, n. 2–3 (2008): 203–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. —. War Memory and Social Politics in Japan, 1945–2005. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006.Google Scholar
  43. Smith, Donald Eugene. Religion and Politics in Burma. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1965.Google Scholar
  44. Stam, Robert. “Beyond Fidelity: The Dialogics of Adaptation.” In Film Adaptation, edited by James Naremore, 54–76. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2000.Google Scholar
  45. Stewart, Alastair. “The Burmese Harp.” Film Journal 14 (November, 1959): 27–8.Google Scholar
  46. Takemae, Eiji. Inside GHQ: The Allied Occupation of Japan and Its Legacy. Translated by Robert Ricketts and Sebastian Swann. New York: Continuum, 2002.Google Scholar
  47. Takeyama, Michio. Harp of Burma [Biruma no tategoto]. Translated by Howard Hibbett. Boston, MA: Tuttle, 2001.Google Scholar
  48. —. The Scars of War: Tokyo during World War II: Writings of Takeyama Michio. Edited and translated by Richard H. Minear. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2007.Google Scholar
  49. Williamson, Muriel C. The Burmese Harp: Its Classical Music, Tunings, and Modes. DeKalb, IL: Center for Southeast Asian Studies, 2000.Google Scholar
  50. Winter, Jay M. “Filming War.” Daedalus 140, n. 3 (2011): 100–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Yoshida, Takashi. “Advancing or Obstructing Reconciliation? Changes in History Education and Disputes over History Textbooks in Japan.” In Teaching the Violent Past: History Education and Reconciliation, edited by Elizabeth A. Cole, 51–79. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2007.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Lorna Fitzsimmons 2013

Authors and Affiliations

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations